• Published 29th Dec 2016
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Star Swirl the Bearded and the Sirens of Capri - Pineta

The epic story of how Star Swirl the Bearded defeated the Sirens and banished them to a remote Mediterranean island.

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It is known by all students of history that Star Swirl the Beaded was the unicorn mage who banished the three Sirens from Equestria thousands of years ago. However as neither he, nor his assistant Clover the Clever, ever wrote about their encounter with the Sirens, and no other pony was present, the true events of their banishing were never properly recorded. Instead the scholars of the day dutifully recounted what they thought had happened, and what they believed Star Swirl would have done. The bards then expanded these accounts into epic poems recounting the adventure, embellishing the missing details with plot twists of their own invention, based on the sort of thing which everypony knew Star Swirl did. With times, the stories turned into legends, and the legends grew. A hundred years later there were so many conflicting accounts of what had happened and no one could be sure which was true. Some stories had it that the Sirens had infiltrated Canterlot, or taken over the whole of Equestria, before being beaten in an epic battle with the great unicorn wizard which lasted over three days. Several thousand years hence, historians had given up any hope of learning the truth, and the scene had been the focus of several blockbluster films, each with more improbably choreographed fight scenes than the last. Star Swirl was a legend.

“I vote we banish them from Equestria!” declared Princess Platinum. She brought a hoof down onto the wooden table in front of her making a sharp sound which echoed off the stone wall at the end of the hall before being absorbed by the soft material of the tapestry hanging on the opposite wall. The unicorn nobility, standing to attention along the side, nodded their heads to give their agreement.

“That won’t work,” said Commander Hurricane. “They can fly!” She buzzed her wings to make the point causing her to rise a small distance into the air. “They would be back in Equestria in no time. I say we throw them in a dungeon!” She hammered a hoof on the other end of the table so hard it left a horseshoe-shaped imprint on the surface. The pegasus guards behind her all nodded their heads to support the counter proposal.

“They could seduce any jailer with their magical voices,” replied the princess. “It’s far too dangerous to keep them in Canterlot.” A waggling of horns from the unicorns supported this retort.

In such cases, where the unicorns and pegasi could not reach agreement, the earth pony delegation felt it their duty to break the deadlock. Chancellor Puddinghead smiled, always happy to play the part of the mediator.

“The obvious solution is…” she paused for a moment make sure everypony was listening before pronouncing the obvious solution in a loud gleeful voice. “We banish them AND throw them in a dungeon in the place that we banish them to!” She grinned with the satisfaction of one who is sure she has found the answer which had been missed by her peers. Behind her the ranks of earth ponies all whinnied and bucked the air.

The three premiers were at an emergency council meeting, hastily convened in Canterlot to discuss a dangerous situation which required urgent action. Three monsters known as Sirens had settled on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the Equestrian plain, from where they had been using their magical seductive powers to extort money and goods from passing travellers. Tales had reached Canterlot of rich merchants, who when passing the Sirens, were seized by a sudden desire to trot up to the three creatures and throw all their gold, jewels, precious cloth and fine food at their hooves, before departing. On returning home, they wondered what had possessed them to do such a thing, foregoing their usual business sense. To discuss this situation, the leaders of the three tribes, accompanied by their advisers, assistants, captains and friends, had all come together in the meeting hall. It was agreed by all that the situation was completely intolerable and that something must be done at once. The undecided issues were what it was that should be done, and who should do it.

Clover the Clever and Smart Cookie walked up to the council table and placed a large book on the surface for all to view. “That proposal raises some legal problems,” said Clover.

“What does she mean?” whispered Puddinghead to her secretary.

“She’s saying it’s against the law,” replied Smart Cookie.

“What law?”

“The Law of Equestria, which you agreed to with the others,” explained Smart Cookie. “Because you said we needed to have a proper Code of Laws in order to be a proper nation.”

“Oh.” The chancellor frowned. She always found it frustrating when her visionary leadership was held back by technicalities.

“According to the Equestrian Convention on the Equine Treatments of Convicts,” said Clover. “Prisoners must be provided with food and drink. If they are to be kept locked up, there must be some pony prepared to provide for them.”

“That is a problem," acknowledge Princess Platinum. All ponies present paused to think.

“Couldn’t we just leave them with a big pile of food?” said Puddinghead. “That’s what I do with my pet frog when I have to go away on state visits.”

Clover shook her head. “According to my books, these creatures can live for many thousands of years.”

The three premiers thought over the situation.

“Does the convention even apply to them?” asked Commander Hurricane. “They're not ponies.”

“It's not clear exactly what sort of animal they are,” admitted Clover. "But they appear to be free-thinking hooved creatures. We should treat them as equine beings.”

“It wouldn't be right to let them starve,” added Smart Cookie.

“Hmm...” Commander Hurricane, Chancellor Puddinghead, and Princess Platinum all frowned as they tried to think of a loophole.

A jingling of bells caused every pony present to turn to face one side of the hall.

“I might be able to help.”

The stallion who had spoken these words, Star Swirl the Bearded, sat on a cushion on the far side of the hall, wearing his comically long beard and ridiculous hat-with-bells-on. Star Swirl was an old pony at the time of this story. Nopony, not even Star Swirl himself, could remember his exact age, which was complicated by his excessive dabbling in time spells, but he had now reached a point where he was weary of adventures and studying magic. He spent most of his time sleeping at his desk. Occasionally he wrote bits of comic poetry, which he would publish anonymously. But such was the respect he had earned at the Equestrian Court, that he always had a seat at meetings. And on the rare occasions when he spoke, everypony listened.

“The problem is that their magical power makes it too dangerous to keep them anywhere where there is a chance somepony could hear them sing,” he said. “But if we were to banish them to another world—a world without magic—they could not be a threat to anyone.”

“That’s a good idea,” said Smart Cookie. “If they didn’t have their magic, they would have no choice but to learn how to make an honest living.”

“And if it’s in another world,” said Princess Platinum with a smile, “then it’s outside our jurisdiction. So whatever happens to them, nopony can say we violated the convention. I think that is a splendid idea. Shall we take a vote? All those in favour of Mister Star Swirl’s suggestion—”

There was a deafening sound as everypony in the room stomped their hooves on the ground in support of the motion.

“Very good,” said Star Swirl, jingling his bells. “Bring the three villains to me—gagged and in chains—and I will perform the spell to banish them.”

There was a long pause. The united unicorns, pegasi and earth ponies of Equestria all looked at the hooves. Eventually the silence was broken by Princess Platinum.

“No no no no no no!” she said, walking up to the stallion. “I think it is obvious that you, Star Swirl the Magnificently Groomed, should have the honour of capturing these foes. After all, you will be protected by your amazing magic! There is no need to expose our soldiers to any unnecessary risk, when we have a hero to hoof.” She looked the hero in the eye and gave him her best royal princess smile.

“I…err…” Star Swirl mumbled. “I don’t travel very well these days… You know—packing is a bother—and… I have a lot of things to do...” He looked up at the unicorn regent with a nervous face.

“Oh but you would have a military escort!” said Platinum. She place one hoof on the wizard's shoulder, and sweep the other across the room to point out the senior officers in the unicorn nobility. “You may take my carriage! We shall all accompany you. As far as—just out of earshot of the Sirens. Then we will help you out of the carriage, and you would just have to trot over to the terrible monsters and banish them! Pouf!” She looked the old wizard in the eye and fluttered her eyelashes. “Go on. Do it for Equestria!”

All the ponies present stared at the wizard with hopeful smiles.

The next day Star Swirl stood on the open plain in front of the rocky outcrop which the Sirens had claimed, accompanied only by his faithful student. Behind them were all the armies of Equestria, safety waiting below the horizon.

After extensive research into protective enchantments, counter spells, and other ways to protect themselves from the Sirens' song, Star Swirl and Clover had adopted what they believed to be the most robust defence. They had plugged their ears with wax.

“Best get this over and done with,” said Star Swirl.

“… … ” replied Clover inaudibly.

They walked up the rocks. On the smooth stone surface, lay the three sea horses / serpents / dragons / reptiles / fish / whatever. Star Swirl made a mental note to look up exactly what they were in the Equestrian Bestiary once he got back to the library. Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze, and Sonata Dusk lay in the sun enjoying the afternoon heat. They were not natural-born homemakers, but they had made themselves comfortable. Around them were piles of all the treasure they had collected from passers-by, as well as barrels of wine, brandy and cider. At the foot of the rocks the ground was littered with scattered gold and silver coins, and the remains of many meals. Adagio looked down at the crazy old pony in the silly hat without much concern. Aria paid no attention and focused on tipping the contents of a silver goblet into her mouth. Sonata was occupied with scratching her name on the rock.

“You cover the other side,” said Star Swirl to Clover.

“… … … ?”

Star Swirl waved a hoof at the younger unicorn, who, true to her name, picked up the message quickly despite the lack of audio, and galloped away around the other side of the rock. Star Swirl then levitated a scroll and pair of reading glasses out of his saddlebag. Pushing the glasses up his nose, he unrolled the scroll and read out the proclamation.

“Ms. Adagio Dazzle, Ms. Aria Blaze and Ms. Sonata Dusk. My name is Star Swirl the Bearded. I am hereby charged by the United Council of the Unicorns, Pegasi and Earth Ponies of Equestria to deliver this message. You have been found guilty of charges of squatting, extortion, highway robbery, and noise pollution. You are subject to an anti-social behaviour order and have been sentenced to exile. You are from now on forbidden to set hoof within Equestria. To enforce this, you will be banished to another world, a world without magic, where the powers which you have so abused will have no effect. You will be given the bodies and appearance of beings of that world, but shall retain your souls and your natural longevity. It is hoped that you will learn to behave responsibly. You may now state anything you have to say in your defence.”

The Equestrian Convention on the Equine Treatments of Convicts stated that the accused must be given the opportunity to say something in their defence. Fortunately it did not say that anypony had to listen to it. Star Swirl rolled up the scroll. He noticed that the Sirens seemed to be laughing at him.

“Are you ready?”

The unicorn cast a silent spell, sending a beam of white magic out of his horn, this diverged away then formed a spherical bubble of light which enclosed the three Sirens. Taken by surprise, they leaped into the air and tried to fly away, but just bounced back off the inside of the bubble. Their anger grew as they repeatedly flew against the barrier, trying to break through, but each time the film seemed to weaken, Star Swirl shot a reinforcement spell to shore it up. On the other side, Clover the Clever did the same shooting light beams into rear side. Caught in a bubble between two of the most powerful unicorns in the worlds, the Sirens had no chance of escape.

“Right, where shall we send you?”

An expert at magical multi-tasking, Star Swirl held the bubble spell in mind, while levitating a notebook out of his saddlebag and peering at the pages through his reading glasses, trying to make out his spidery writing. Years before, he had compiled an index of spells to access every universe he had explored. Some had taken years to develop, and had only been possible after the initial connection had been established through a magical mirror. After he passed away, many of these would be lost, as no other pony could interpret his personal script.

He ran a hoof down the list searching for a suitable world. Somewhere without magic—that ruled out half of them—and somewhere inhabited—it would not be just to send them to a barren wasteland—and not excessively hot or cold or dark or humid.

Eventually he found the spell for a suitable world which he had visited long ago through that magic mirror now kept in the Crystal Empire. He cast the enchantment, opening a window across realities in the sky in front on him. Now to find a suitable landing site—he had developed a suitable user-friendly illusion for this. He surveyed the alien landscape, rotated the view, and zoomed out to see an aerial view of a dark forest—that was no good—zoom out further—ah, there was the coastline, that was better—zoom in again—there was a little island close to a port city, perfect—zoom in further—much of the coast looked rocky. That was no good, he didn’t want to hurt them on the sharp rocks, but likewise he couldn’t throw them into the sea. Then he saw a small sandy cove—perfect—set the target. Opening the window to the maximum size, he pushed the bubble, with Sirens, through the portal, then with no unnecessary fanfare, burst it, sending the exiles flying down to the ground in the other world. He zipped up the window before they could think of trying to fly back. The magic done, the sky returned to normal and Clover trotted up to his side.

“Good. That’s that done, now we can go and get some tea.”

“… …”

“Oh, I just realized—I forgot to give them clothes! Should have done that really. The inhabitants of that world can get a bit funny about going around naked. It’s a real nuisance having to tailor ever trans-dimensional spell to the local fashion. Never mind, I expect they’ll manage. Somebody will lend them a toga or something.”

“… ?”

Once they were back in Canterlot and had removed the wax from their ears, Star Swirl and Clover sat down by the fire to enjoy their tea and buttered crumpets, and discuss the day’s events.

“So you found a safe place to send them in that world, where they cannot harm other creatures, or come to harm themselves,” asked Clover.

“Indeed,” said Star Swirl, “I sent them to the lovely little island of Capreae, or Capri. It’s a delightful place. I visited it briefly many years ago while exploring that world with my old friend Socrates. Spectacular sea views, warm climate, lovely places to swim, and great sea food. In a few thousand years it will probably be ruined by excessive tourist developments, but right now you could not ask for a better place to be exiled to. I wonder if I was a bit too nice to them. This was supposed to be a punishment after all.”